I was in someone’s office this week and they had the following quote displayed on a bookshelf:
“That which is written without effort is, in general, read without pleasure.” Ben Johnson
As a liberal arts type who appreciates good writing, I thought this quote was especially profound.
I liken good writing to being a good quarterback. You will often hear people say that someone is a good quarterback, but they are a) not good out of the pocket, b) uneven in clutch situations, c) can’t throw the long ball, d) too injury-prone, e) can’t run the ball, etc. You may hear all five of these to describe Tony Romo of the Dallas Cowboys, but when people describe Aaron Rogers of the Green Bay Packers, there is never a “but” – he is a great quarterback without qualification.
Good writing requires the ability to tell good stories, empathize, surprise, and delight. It needs to be honest and sometimes vulnerable and funny. It requires sound logic, creativity, and the ability to summarize, synthesize, and get to the essence of your point. Oh, and good grammar too. If you can do all of these, then – and only then – are you a good writer.
PS: I am eternally thankful to everyone in my life who helped me develop as a writer. But I would especially like to recognize Dr. Tim Green, a professor at St. Edward’s University, who spent countless hours teaching me how to write well.